The Goon problem

I couldn’t resist…

Back when we did our best and worst of 2005, Jim Doom slapped a “most disappointing” on The Goon, the silly horror/mobster book by Eric Powell. I didn’t agree, first because there was some supremely crappy stuff last year and also because even though The Goon had slid a bit, I didn’t think it merited that serious of criticism.

Then came the past two issues (#s 17 and 18). And if we’re going to run primaries for best and worst of this year, well, I have my mind made up in one category.

When it was running at full steam (namely in the first few storylines), The Goon was a rollicking, ridiculous book filled with some of the most ingenuitive art (pencil shading! scans of Powell’s son!) and wonderful plays on the old horror archetypes of vampires, zombies and mad scientists. Then every once in awhile Powell would bring out a serious issue, namely the football issue, and show he could do more than be ridiculous.

Lately, few of those qualities have been on display. Issue 17 started out with promise, making a classic play on Hitchcock’s The Birds. Things quickly devolve into senseless fighting, which isn’t the problem. What’s wrong is a complete disappearance of the good ol’ Goon humor. Instead, we get at least seven jokes about incontinent elderly in just a handful of pages. That might’ve been a jab of a gag in earlier Goon books, but this time it’s pounded again and again. So when I finally read, “Lookout for the yellow snow!” I wanted to just put the damn thing down and read something funnier. Like this.

As if an assault of lame pee jokes weren’t bad enough, in issue 18 Powell decided that the best way to combat those nasty folks who’d planned to boycott the “Satan’s Sodomy Baby” issue of The Goon (which eventually caused Dark Horse not to publish it) would be to fill an entire replacement issue with lame-ass jokes as to how funny “Satan’s Sodomy Baby” is.

Though it’s hard to imagine how funny the “outrageousness” of that comic would be, I can’t help but think of the monkey sex issue in Powers.

As to the issue 18 that DID print… Well, there’s not a lot to say. A guy running a news stand shoots himself in the head, which goes over about as well as you’d imagine. Franky picks up a copy of “Satan’s Sodomy Baby” and makes so many insipid jokes about it that you’d think there wasn’t a bed-wetting old person in sight. And then there’s a Mike Allred-drawn backup story that isn’t even drawn well.

And, as always, there’s the four pages of letters in the back that continue to be unfunny in a truly inspired way.

Somehow, I’m still not ready to write The Goon off altogether. It was just too good before. Perhaps Powell’s efforts for Marvel have sapped too much of his time. But with The Goon on a bi-monthly schedule, that seems like a weak excuse. It just needs to recapture the glory. And if it does, there’s still enough time in the year to convince me otherwise on that “most disappointing” thing.